When we need to know the status of our physical well-being, we get a health check up. That may entail a physical exam of our body, some blood tests, screenings, etc. But how do we get a spiritual check up? How do we track our spiritual progress?
I heard a parable about a Swami who was known for having conquered anger. One day, he was sitting by a dwindling bonfire when a gentleman who was cold approached him and asked if he could try to ignite some more fire to keep them warm. The Swami said, “No, there are no more embers left to ignite.” The gentlemen noticed a couple sparks and asked again. He got the same reply. After some time he wondered out loud if moving some of the logs might help ignite some flames and he asked the Swami a third time if it was possible to rekindle the fire. This time, the Swami raised his voice in anger as he replied, “NO! Didn’t I already tell you the fire has been put out?!?” The gentleman quietly said, “I was mistaken. It appears there isn’t just a little fire left but now I can even see flames (referring to the swami’s temper)!”
It’s easy to believe we have conquered vices like anger, jealousy, impatience, hatred until we are put to test in those areas.
Perhaps one mechanism of checking our spiritual growth is asking ourselves- How often do I lose my cool and get upset when things don’t go my way? How much time do I spend worrying and complaining instead of counting my blessings? How often do I find myself taking time out to meditate or connect with God?
At this point, you may be asking- why is spirituality even important?
I believe spirituality benefits us. The deeper we travel on this inward journey the more peace and happiness we find. And as long as we are connected and growing in this area, material and temporal circumstances will be less likely to shake us. Instead of worrying about things, our faith will encourage us to approach life with positivity, enthusiasm, and calm acceptance.
The Bible also alludes to the spiritual confidence that embraces us when we are spiritually connected: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
I recently started taking yoga classes, partly because I was curious as to why millions of people are drawn to this popular practice. You often hear Yoga is great for stress relief, relaxation, and health improvements. What I have learned is that spirituality is at the basis of this “remedy.” Yoga is a means to achieve a peaceful state of mind. It has been defined in several cultures and traditions as “union with the divine.”
“The man who sees me in everything and everything within me
will not be lost to me, nor will I ever be lost to him.
He who is rooted in oneness realizes that I am in every being;
wherever he goes, he remains in me.
When he sees all being as equal in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself, that man has grown perfect in yoga.”
– The Bhagawad Gita
This passage from the Holy Bhagawad Gita highlights the stability and peace that spirituality brings. Connecting with the Higher power within us helps us maintain a state of calm no matter what is happening on the outside. It helps us understand the oneness concept- the idea that at our core, we are all one. The supreme One manifests in every being and every thing equally. There is no point to anger because the one who we are getting angry at is simply a part of ourselves. When we start seeing God in everything, we stop fighting what is happening and go with the flow of every moment. As a result, there is an alignment within our mind, body, and soul and we reap peace and harmony when this alignment occurs.
It is often quoted at the Sant Nirankari Mission that, “If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”
This peace cannot be achieved by looking outward- at worldly belongings to fulfill us. This peace can only come from looking inward and connecting to the Supersoul or stable entity within us all. The by-products of this kind of spiritual connection are self-awareness, love, patience, tolerance, and peace.
If we go to a doctor’s office for a physical check-up, we can go to satsung (holy congregation) for a spiritual check up. Attending a spiritual congregation and keeping the company of spiritual beings can strengthen our foundation. Mediation, prayer, reading holy scriptures, and practices like yoga can also boost our spiritual immune system. Luckily, you don’t have to travel far for a spiritual check-up. You just have to look within.